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By Gabrielle. Some photos by Sarah-Marie Photography.

There’s often a little internal struggle when all of our life’s dreams don’t look exactly like they did with our eyes closed. Even if the reality is just as wonderful and just as ideal, it takes a moment or two of growing pains to adjust! It happens, doesn’t it? So I completely understand when Anne talks about her reticence to fully embrace suburban life for a while. Homes all on top of each other and neighbors knowing when you’re leaving and when you’re coming home wasn’t how she envisioned her life, but their location and all the lovely friends they’ve made in their neighborhood turned out to be a huge factor in the happiness levels of her family! Eyes closed or open, that is just heavenly.

Friends, I hope you enjoy the bright colors and bright ideas in this tour. I sure did! Welcome, McGraw family!

Q: Please introduce us to your sweet family!

A: My husband, Ryan, and I have been married for eight years and have two vivacious daughters. Cora is six, and is wickedly smart and all the fun things that come with that: strong willed, independent, and determined to eek every second out of every day. She actually says, “Today was the best day of my entire life” at the end of most days. She’s my mini-me and my teacher in so many ways.

Greta is four, and is literally the happiest child you’ve ever met and always has been – even as a baby. She’s full of sweet sass and loves to sing and perform and make everyone laugh.

Ryan is a technology consultant and works out of the house when he’s not traveling to visit clients. We met in Atlanta where we went to college together, and moved to New York City and Minneapolis before settling down in Nashville almost seven years ago. I work at a very large and well known global organization, which is what brought about our move to the suburbs in order to reduce my commuting time. I’m also producing Nashville’s first Listen To Your Mother show this April!

Brightness and happy colors, straight ahead!

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Meri Meri Giveaway

June 9, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

Happy Monday! I’ve got a wonderfully charming giveaway for you today. The papergoods shop, Meri Meri, source of endlessly delightful party supplies and paper goods, is offering a generous $150 voucher for their happy products!

Cookie Cutters by Meri Meri

UK- based Meri Meri is a long-time sponsor of Design Mom and I’m always delighted to write about their wares — it’s easy to do because their products are completely adorable. They offer a huge range of party supplies — garlands and cake stands and cupcake sets and plates and napkins and platters and gift bags and stationery and boxes for baked goods, and on and on. They’re all about sweet and unusual party themes, and they offer products for every holiday as well. The best part? All of the designs are exclusive to Meri Meri!

And they come up with new products all the time. In fact, my latest favorite thing is their stand-out Cookie Cutter Collection — eyeglasses, squirrels, lovebirds, nesting dolls. Each one is cuter than the next!

Let me guess: summer events coming up? Independence Day BBQs? Birthday parties? End of the school year bash? Well, $150 is more than enough to buy everything you need for an amazing event.

Visit Meri Meri and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to know if you have a favorite party theme. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

——–

Danielle is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Greek food! Our family loves Greek food. None of our kids have ever actually visited Greece, but somehow they still feel connected, knowing that Ben Blair and I have spent time there. Or maybe it has nothing to do with that, and they just love the food! Which would make sense, because it’s so dang good. When I’m thinking of Greek food, I imagine lemon and oregano, strong feta cheese, light, summery, cucumbers and tomatoes and yogurt. Then I imagine all those foods combined. It’s magic, I tell you.

I think it’s safe to say that gyros are the most famous of Greek meals — a classic sandwich, with meat cut from a spit, wrapped in a pita, and topped with tzatziki (yogurt sauce). Happily, gyros are easy to make at home. True, they will not be as authentic as the kind you’d get from a sandwich cart in Athens, but they sure hit the spot when I have a craving!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

It’s nice to be able to toss everything into a pot, forget it, and let it cook slowly for a few hours until it’s time to eat. While the chicken is delicious on its own inside a soft pita bread, adding tzatziki makes it that much better. We like to serve our gyros with a simple Greek salad on the side. We use mixed baby greens and add some sliced cucumber, tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, and a basic balsamic vinaigrette. For an additional side, roasted potato wedges cooked with lemon and oregano, or even potato chips, are great. If you’re serving a large group, you could also add a chickpea salad, fresh veggies and fruit.

And that’s it. A super easy summer meal that you can take with you to a park or eat it out on the patio.

Ready to get cooking?

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

June 6, 2014

Bearded Betty

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Was it a good week? Ours was full of end-of-school-year activities. Yesterday was Hero Day at the elementary school and Betty dressed up as Ben Blair! The last day of school is next Thursday — I’m guessing Monday thru Thursday will be pretty laid back. This weekend we have lots going on. A track meet, a birthday party for a friend, and a family cousins get-together on Sunday. Should be fun!

Also. This is cool. Saturday morning, our whole family will be hosting an early screening of How To Train Your Dragon 2 in Emeryville— it’s part of the Fandango Family Screenings. If you’re a Bay Area family, you can win tickets to join us at the showing! Popcorn and soda included!! Send an email to DesignMomScreening@gmail.com for more information and for your chance to win. Emails will be accepted until 5:00pm today (that’s Friday, June 6th). Then one lucky family, chosen at random from all emails received, will be notified by 6:00pm. See you at the movies! #fandangofamily

Now, while we get ready to embrace the busy weekend, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- It’s been over 50 days. BRING BACK OUR GIRLS! #bringbackourgirls

- On compromise.

- Cute! She made an infographic about important family information (like who enjoys ice cream most).

- Do you want to be “exceptionally likeable“?

- The Bloggess is the Bluebird of Happiness.

- How ingrained is sexism in our culture? Well. Turns out Americans are less fearful of storms with female names.

- It’s the 70th Anniversary of D-Day today. And a 93-year-old WWII vet will parachute into Normandy — again — to mark the day.

- The 15 Coolest DIY Gifts for Father’s Day.

- A one minute version of Jim Carrey’s commencement speech. So good!

- Manifesto against the tyranny of luxury kitchens.

- It’s time for another Olive Us Contest! Share your favorite episode and win $15o to Amazon. Details here.

I hope you have the happiest weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — My inbox has had some heavy heartbreak in it this week — a reminder to me that everyone I encounter is probably having a rough time of it in one way or another, and that I need to be ever kinder. For those in a hard spot, I hope people are nice to you this weekend. : )

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Five Summer Films

June 6, 2014

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By Gabrielle. This post is brought to you by The Fault In Our Stars. In theaters June 6th — based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green.

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Can I tell you how happy I am that summer film season is here? I feel like there was nothing I was excited to see for months, then suddenly, I want to see a ton! Or at least 5:

1) Last week, Ben Blair and I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. The last X-Men movie wasn’t my favorite, so I had low expectations for this one too. But it turns out I loved it! A really good script and story. We’ll be sending Ralph to this one for sure.

2) Then today, The Fault In Our Stars comes out — in fact, according to Twitter, some of you saw it at midnight screenings last night! This one I’m very much looking forward to. Maude, Olive, and I have all read the book. And cried over the book, too. Ralph is also excited about this one. He hasn’t read the book, but he’s a huge John Green fan. John Green is not just a best-selling author, he also has a super popular vlog that he runs with his brother. That’s how Ralph became a fan.

The story is about two teenagers dealing with cancer. I know that doesn’t sound too romantic, but it actually makes for a sweet love story. Happily, from the look of the trailer, the movie is going to stay very close to the book. Are you picky about that sort of thing? I’m medium picky. Maude is super picky. She’s a huge reader with a memory for details. So when a movie strays from the book plot, she takes it personally. Hah!

Have you read the book? Are you planning to see the movie? Here’s the trailer in case you’re curious:

3) The whole family is excited about How To Train Your Dragon 2. We’re headed to a screening this weekend. I didn’t know I would love the first one so much, but I did. I was impressed with the story, the animation, and the music too. I hope this sequal is equally good.

4) Betty and June keep asking when the new Annie is coming out. It’s a fresh (much more diverse!) take on the story and looks cute.

5) Ben Blair and I also want to see Edge of Tomorrow. We hadn’t heard much about it, but it’s getting good reviews. So now I’ve got in on my list. Lots of date nights on the horizon!

Now your turn. Any movies you’re looking forward to this summer? Any you’ve already seen and loved? And what’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? I’d love to hear.

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Travel Advice

June 5, 2014

suitcases lined up blair family

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Something a little lighter today. I was reading this list of travel advice from Anthony Bourdain (I like him a ton), and loved so much of what he had to say. One of the standout tips he offers is to read fiction on the flight set in the location you are headed to. He says, “Fiction is in many ways more useful than a guidebook, because it gives you those little details, a sense of the way a place smells, an emotional sense of the place.” Isn’t that great?

Another thing he mentioned is that he prefers to check his baggage on flights. I was a little surprised when I read it, because I feel like for years all travel advice has pointed to carryons, carryons, carryons. I have some friends who are passionate about having a carryon-only policy. They make no exceptions. Even on long-haul trips, they prefer to travel as light as possible. And they also carry some concern about lost luggage — it’s too big a risk in their eyes and they’re not willing to hand off their suitcase to anyone else.

But I admit, I also cheered when I read Anthony Bourdain’s luggage advice, because I feel the same way! I arrive at the airport, and I can’t wait to get rid my luggage and see it transported away on that magical moving belt. Especially if I’m traveling with the kids! For me, going through security with the least possible amount of stuff is ideal. And then, if we happen to be there early, we’re free to roam around and see what the airport has to offer — maybe even take in a sit-down meal, or get a pedicure — without having to watch our baggage. Heading down the gateway, finding our seats, settling the kids — all of it is easier with no luggage dragging behind us.

I realize that sometimes, we simply don’t have a choice — when we moved to France and when we moved back to the U.S., we used every checked baggage and carryon option available to us. And when I’m traveling for a big conference — like Alt Summit which is coming up in June — I often have so many supplies that a larger suitcase is essential, which means checking it is essential too. But on most of my flights, I only bring a roller bag, so I really do have a choice between carrying it on and checking it.

I should note, that even if I’m boarding a plane without a carryon, I still carry a tote with my laptop/book/magazine and other essentials. But if possible, I prefer to hand off my actual luggage to someone else.

A silly topic, I know — I guess I wanted an excuse to share the article on travel advice. : ) But now I’m curious. Where do you fall on the checked baggage versus carryon baggage debate? Any strong opinions? And if you read the Anthony Bourdain article, I’d love to hear if any tips stick out to you.

P.S. — The tricky thing these days is the luggage fees. They’re the worst! I’m always looking for a workaround to avoid them, though I fly so many different airlines that I don’t have a good system.

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NatureBox Giveaway

June 4, 2014

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Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Thinking about summer + kids? Well then, I’ve got the perfect giveaway for you! NatureBox is the sponsor and there are two big winners. Each will receive a free 6-month NatureBox Deluxe Snacker Subscription — worth $120 each!

Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service

Have you heard of NatureBox? It’s been recommended to me by several friends and it was fun to finally give it a try. It’s a snack subscription service — a box of yum delivered to your door, no shipping fees. Even better: all the snacks are made with wholesome ingredients and are nutritionist approved! They have 3 different size options — 5 bags, 10 bags or 20 bags per box — and the box arrives once a month.

Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service

I’ve mentioned that I’m sometimes skeptical about “healthy” food discussions, because “healthy” seems to mean so many different things to so many different people these days. For one person, it’s gluten free. For another, it’s simple ingredients. For another, it’s no added sugar. For another, it’s no dairy. And on and on. But NatureBox has something for every version of healthy out there. I swear.

Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service

School gets out for us next week, and that means it’s time for me to up my snack game. During the summer break, the kids are wandering in and out of the kitchen constantly, and friends are coming and going constantly, and we really have to keep the pantry stocked! I can see NatureBox will be a huge help with this.

But honestly, more than even having lots of excellent snacks to pick from, I think it’s the novelty of getting a package that convinced me how fun a service like this is. When it was first delivered, Oscar brought in the NatureBox package from the front porch and it was like Christmas — a box full of food! And it was easy to picture how having a new box arrive each month — filled with both familiar and new tastes — would add some excitement to a random summer day.

Extra fun: Get 50% off your first box of any size (only $9.95!). It’s valid on your 1st month’s box, for new customers only. Use the code DESIGNMOM.

Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service Naturebox - Healthy Subscription Snack Service

To enter the giveaway, visit NatureBox to check out their offerings, then leave a comment below — I’d love to hear what NatureBox snack you want to try first! The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Lindsay and Angela Adlich are the lucky winners. Thanks for playing!

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#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

When I was in 6th grade, I got to take a trip to Hawaii with my dance group (it was called the Super Steppers, in case you’re curious). One of the main things everyone told me I must do in Hawaii is mail home a coconut in its husk. No box. No padding. Just write the address on the coconut with a marker and slap on the stamps. Of course, to my 11-year-old ears, this sounded like the coolest thing a person could possibly do. There’s something so fun and funny about getting a non-standard letter or package in the mail!

These postcards are admittedly not as extreme as a coconut. But. They are made of wood! And they are awesome to find tucked in between the bills and junk mail! I’m a huge fan of photo transfers — they’re practically magic. And I thought image transfers + wooden postcards sounded like the perfect storm of fun, useable, good-looking projects.

To up the charm even more, I used historical images from New York City (available here), and I love how they turned out so much!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

I should note from the beginning, these handmade wooden post cards are not the same as paper post cards. Due to their width and weight, they are priced similar to a large envelope or a ‘flat’. But they’re worth the extra stamp — their unique, one-of-a-kind quality makes this snail mail more like art work.

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

It takes some work and patience but the outcome is definitely worth it!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

On to the postcard how-to!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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EQ3

June 3, 2014

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Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by EQ3 — celebrate their new flagship showroom in San Francisco and you could win EQ3 furniture!

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Do you remember the origami-style paper lanterns I shared in my living room tour? Several readers asked about them and I got a kick out of telling them they came from a furniture store called EQ3 — EQ3 was one of my first discoveries when I moved back to the U.S.! So it felt like I was sharing a fun find. : )

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We do a lot of our errands in Emeryville — it’s a nearby town where the big movieplexes and shopping centers are located. Best buy. Michaels. That sort of thing. (Fun fact: it’s also where Pixar is located, too!) Anyway, when we were still very new here, on our first visit to Emeryville, we were exploring a shopping center called Bay Street, and I noticed a store with long banners of Marimekko fabric hanging in the windows. Of course I was super curious.

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It was called EQ3 and I had never heard of it. So I went in to explore and immediately felt like I’d found treasure! Such a great store. It’s full of furniture and homegoods — some items exclusive to EQ3 and some from brands you already know. Unusual things too — like the Marimekko section which is a mini-store within the store. Very cool!

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EQ3 is based in Canada, and they are currently growing their presence here in the U.S.. Since I was already a fan, I was happy as can be when they reached out and told me about their new flagship showroom opening in San Francisco.

I got the chance to visit the day before it opened and shoot photos (the photos seen here in this post). The whole place has a terrific vibe — open and spacious and warm. If you’re in San Francisco, definitely take a peek. And if you’re nowhere near San Francisco, don’t despair, you can also check it out online. : )

Keep reading for some of my EQ3 favorites, including the fabric that got me all sentimental.

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By Gabrielle.

Confession: I kind of harassed Emma to participate in my Living With Kids series. Truer confession: I kind of harassed and begged. And then emailed her over and over to ask if she had finished her questions yet, and could she please send more photos. Because even though I had more than enough, I simply wanted to see more of her life. It’s pretty remarkable.

The problem is that Emma was kind of busy. You see, she’s 15. I should’ve known that she was probably super occupied with all that average ordinary teen stuff, right? Not right. Not even close.

Emma is a change-maker. She has a blog, a nonprofit, and travels a lot with her family. And the reason she was a little late in sending her finished interview was, well, she had just won her county science fair, competed in the state science fair, unexpectedly getting in to the international science fair, which resulted in a crazy flurry of getting everything together for that. It ended up being an incredible experience, and she won a big special award grant from China and placed second in her category of the top 90 high school studies in the field of Environmental Management. Oh, and she is fearless, especially when it comes to ziplines.

Friends, I am so proud to present my first teen house tour, starring the very awesome Emma.

Q: Please introduce us to you and your family!

A: I’m Emma and I’m 15 years old. I’m a passionate young change-maker, conservationist, blogger, photographer, writer, leader, and adventurer. I love bright colors, wilderness, funky design, hard work, good writing, close friendships, and engaging learning. My blog has been a journey, as many are. I (usually) like blogging every Sunday with my favorite photography moments from the week. I also enjoy backpacking, ballet, science, swimming, planning parties, and cleaning the fridge.

My brother Max is 13. He’s an apprentice beekeeper and a pretty good shot at archery. He’s on a fencing team and plays way too much Minecraft. He loves being outside more than anything.

My mom is a multi-tasker. Mostly she drives us around, but she’s also an event coordinator, baker, infographic designer, and teacher. My dad has a nonprofit to help people and organizations with “emotional intelligence,” or EQ. Basically he helps people become better leaders to make positive change. He’s always talking about things like “noble goals” and saying stuff like “when people feel pushed, they resist.” Sometimes it’s annoying but I’m beginning to realize how great it is to be in a family that talks about emotions and emotional intelligence a lot.

Emma’s room will make you wish you’d kept all of your childhood collections…

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By Gabrielle.

I know I linked to some #yesallwomen articles on Friday, but would you mind if we furthered the discussion a bit more? Ben Blair and I talked with the kids about the hashtag over the weekend and it’s been on mind non-stop.

If you had asked me a week ago whether or not I had been sexually harassed in my life, I would have quickly said, “No, not really.” If I’d thought about it a bit more, I would have said, “Um. Yes. There was some molesting when I was a child.” But man oh man, reading the hashtag brought back so many instances. Most are small, some feel bigger. But all are so commonplace that without the #yesallwomen hashtag, I didn’t recognize them as harassment — they are just one of the costs of existing on the earth with a vagina.

Keep reading to learn what we discussed as a family.

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A Few Things

May 30, 2014

swimming hole at Sequoia National Park

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? Are you ready for the weekend? With the exception of a BBQ on Saturday, I’m going to be on the couch all weekend — doctor’s orders. My poison oak situation has become infected and my foot has swollen to twice it’s normal size. Blech. But I have medicine and cream and I’m going to keep my foot elevated, and I know I’ll be on the mend soon enough. While I hang out, Ben Blair is taking 3 of the kids to this. How about you? Any good plans?

While I get started doing not-much-of-anything (actually, I hope to catch up on email!), here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Solar Roadways – the narrator is obnoxious, but these seem amazing!

- Like everyone on the planet, I’ve been thinking about Maya Angelou. NPR ran a 1986 interview with her on Wednesday and so many parts of it stuck with me. She recites poetry and sings. She talks about being influenced by Shakespeare and understanding that if a white man from centuries ago could write the way she felt, then she too could write the way a Chinese man felt, or how a Jewish boy from Brooklyn felt. She talks about how her muteness became an addiction. So good.

- The response to the Reading Rainbow kickstarter made me happy.

- Have you heard of Manhattanhenge?

- Dark walls in a nursery.

- I didn’t discover the #yesallwomen stream until mid-week and my heart breaks every time I read it. I could add a dozen of my own experiences to the stream. Every female I know could. Not sure what #yesallwomen is? Start here for a good explanation.

- Related, I think this article, titled Your Princess Is In Another Castle, is excellent.

- Also related, if dads want to raise ambitious daughters, they need to do half the housework.

- A fun elephant lamp that children can build by themselves.

DIY indigo dyed blanket.

- Yay for gardening with kids!

- The Monied — a lifestyle blog through a financial lens.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Ela & Glo Giveaway

May 29, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

Doesn’t it feel like a good day for a giveaway? Yes indeed! And it’s a great one. The prize is a $200 gift certificate and the sponsor is Ela & Glo! Their shop offers a hand-picked selection of home decor items, beauty products, and gifts for both children and adults. And the generous prize means you get to pick whatever you like!

Ela & Glo - Spring 2014

If Ela & Glo is new to you, it’s probably because they’re quite new as well — they opened their internet shop doors only 6 months ago. Something really neat about Ela & Glo is that the business is run by a mother-daughter team, and the online shop has a brick-and-mortar version in Venezuela. Isn’t that fantastic? Eliana and Gloria work together to find and sell products that their families truly enjoy.

Something else great about Ela & Glo is that they focus on excellent customer service — unless it’s a custom item, they process every order within 24 hours!

If I won, I would definitely choose the Doris Dress, and I would want to give these Veggie Rattles to every baby I know! I’m also fully intrigued by these Coral Sandals — apparently, they are made of Melflex, a plastic that is elastic, water resistant, hypoallergenic and recyclable. And, they’re injected with natural ingredients that make them smell sweet. And, they’re like $20 bucks!

Visit Ela & Glo and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to what product catches your eye first. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Alexandra is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Me + Ben Blair

May 29, 2014

Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth

By Gabrielle. Photos by Justin Hackworth .

Two months ago, I was answering some interview questions via email — the interview was for a magazine and the questions were about our wedding (so long ago!). The interviewer also requested an image of us as a couple from our wedding, and an image of us as a couple now. All of a sudden, I realized we hadn’t had a picture taken of just the two of us for years! There has been an occasional couples selfie, but nothing that really works as a portrait. So I asked the interviewer to hold tight while I figured out a current photo.

Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth

Then, as luck would have it, Justin Hackworth let us know he was coming to town to shoot a wedding, and we invited him to come by for dinner. We had a lovely evening of casual dinner and catching up, and after dinner, he generously shot a few photos of me and Ben. And I love how they turned out!

Benjamin Blair of Olive Us - shot by Justin Hackworth Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth Benjamin & Gabrielle Blair of Olive Us & Design Mom - shot by Justin Hackworth

Of course, now I’m curious. What’s your experience with couple photos? Do you make a point to have photos of you and your mate taken regularly? Or are you like us — taking a million photos of the kids and travel scenery, but forgetting to get photos with just the two of us? I’d love to hear!

By the way, Ralph and Maude were both gone the day that Justin came by, so we couldn’t do family photos, but he captured some fantastic images of the youngest four.

Click here to see the photos of the kids!

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Help Wanted

May 28, 2014

pencils+crayons+markers (1 of 1)

By Gabrielle. Image by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

Hi Friends! This is a little announcement to let you know Design Mom is hiring. I’m seeking an in-office assistant.

This is a part-time entry-level position. 20 hours per week — in office from 9:00 to 1:00, Monday through Friday. Sometimes, a particular day might need extra hours, so if you can stay longer sometimes, that’s great.

The job will include processing and responding to a ton of email — like incoming product pitches and event invitations and sponsorship inquiries. So applicants need strong communication skills and should be clear writers. The job will include running errands — generally work-related, but sometimes personal (because work life and personal life for bloggers often overlap). The job will include assisting on photo shoots, discussing the editorial calendar, and doing research (like figuring out what the rental van options are for 10+ people planning a two-week roadtrip…). The job could include attending blog-related events and possibly traveling for those events.

I’m seeking someone who is a creative problem solver, who has a knack for getting things all the way done. Someone who is energetic, who is excited about blogging and social media. I’m looking for someone who is positive and kind and fun to spend time with.

Interested? Are you a good fit for the job? Living in the East Bay? Available during the posted hours? Looking for entry-level work? Then I want to hear from you! Send me an email. Write a short intro letting me know a bit about yourself, and include links to any of your websites, blogs or social media accounts. At that point, I’ll contact candidates with further instructions.

Want to know more about the job? I’ve included some Q&A when you click through.

Keep reading for answers to your questions.

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By Gabrielle. Image via The Glow.

I’m fascinated with birth cultures. (Have you see Babies? So, so  good.) So when Fiona offered to answer a few questions about the birthing system in Berlin, I couldn’t wait to share her with you. From the amount of scans during a routine pregnancy to weight gain scrutiny and a delightful post-natal leave program, it’s all interesting stuff. And just wait until you hear of the area’s medicated birth philosophy. Friends, I truly hope you enjoy this interview! Welcome, Fiona!

Q: Describe the moment you knew you were pregnant! How did you tell your first born?

A: When our first-born turned two, we decided it was a good time to try for a second wee little one. I had not had a period since giving birth as I took the mini-pill immediately afterwards whilst breastfeeding and stayed on it, so I had absolutely no idea how long my cycle would take to get back into any sort of rhythm. A few weeks after I stopped taking the pill, I had pains in my side one night that just seemed really strange, so I went to the doctor the next morning and she gave me a pregnancy test to take. I was surprised and so so happy to see a very faint, but certainly there, second line! Wow, I had not expected to get pregnant so fast!

More from Berlin, just ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Hallie Burton‘s energy and joy for life is completely contagious. It’s refreshing to find someone so equally enamored with her family life, professional life, and the city she calls home. (Ahhh, New York! It has that effect!)

And it’s a fabulous reminder that falling in love with your day-to-day doesn’t necessarily mean over the top gestures, jam-packed schedules, and excess. Sometimes, it means scootering to school, having a daily uniform, and simplifying the aesthetics that surround us. Yes, simplicity is a very good friend to Hallie and her sweet family. How inspiring! Friends, I hope you love this tour as much as I do.

Q: Tell us about this stylish family.

A: We are an Australian (me), a Canadian (George), one loud New Yorker (Pompie), and one Shoodle (Maxi)! I’m a working Lifestyle photographer whose clients include Target, Crate and Barrel, Jonathan Adler, Martha Stewart, Club 21 Global, and Como Hotels and resorts. George is a partner in a contracting business. Pompie is a student and a passionate ballet dancer already! Maxi is an international dog of Mystery, and we are all dedicated Roger Federer fans!

Together we ride, scoot, dance, skate, and sing through our days! We really are the “family that plays together stays together!” We are a one-child family by choice and love every minute of it…we are the three musketeers of our own destiny. As three individuals and as a family we fit, and we knew our family was complete the minute Pompie came out.

We love the idea of equally shared parenting, and the concept really drives us to be better individuals and keep our lives and careers going and, of course, being the best parents possible. Equally being in her life and not one out doing the other really is creating such a beautiful independent child. We travel a lot coming from other countries, so we try hard to keep this side of our life moving for the grandparents. We love bringing up a child in New York; it’s exciting daily and what’s on offer is amazing. We actually try and stay in town in summer so we have a better chance of discovering the city without so many crowds…

Sleekest kitchen ever. Straight ahead.

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Offline

May 27, 2014

Blairs at Sequoia National Park

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Getting back to business on the Tuesday after a holiday weekend always feels like a challenge to me. You too? But the long weekend was wonderful and even though the house is a mess and I feel behind on work, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Totally worth the effort and the aftermath! Things I want to remember from our trip:

- We spent the first few days at Sequoia National Park. We hadn’t been to a National Park since we moved back to the U.S., and I was so happy to be there! I love getting the park brochure — designed with the standard black band. Love everything about it! And I grinned when we bought a year-long parks pass. We have plans to hit the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite and more this year, so I know we’ll put it to good use.

- For the next few months there are 9 of us, while Charles from France is visiting. Our car only has 8 seat belts, so we rented an extended-cab van for the trip. It was nice for the kids to be able to spread out.

- Sequoia National Park makes for fun photos. The trees really are magnificent! We took some of the less-traveled hikes through the ancient trees, and it felt like sacred ground. (You can see more of our photos here.)

- We enjoyed learning the difference between a redwood tree and a sequoia, and we also learned a ton about black bears, which are common in the park. Oscar especially loved learning about the park animals. After a kid-friendly lecture on American Lions by a park ranger, Oscar asked, “Can a cougar jump farther than a Kangaroo?”

- One of the major highlights was finding a picturesque swimming hole, and getting it all to ourselves for at least an hour — which felt remarkable on such a busy holiday weekend.

- I brought my laptop on the trip and didn’t open it once. And we didn’t get phone coverage in the park either. So I was basically off-line for 4 days. Delicious!

- We got home from Sequoia quite late on Sunday night, then repacked the van and headed up to Stinson Beach the same night. We had planned to go in the morning, but wanted to avoid the legendary traffic, so we put the kids in their pajamas and made the 1 hour and 15 minutes drive at 11:30 that night. Everyone got to sleep in the next morning. : ) We stayed in a beach house with Jordan’s family and Liz’s family.

- The weather on Monday was ideal! We spent the whole day on the beach. At one point, Ben Blair and I had a race — it was the first time I had full-out sprinted in years (yes, I realize I don’t exercise much). It felt so good!

- This was the first Memorial Day in quite awhile where we didn’t visit a military cemetery. It was definitely a different sort of Memorial Day for us.

- Though we went went through several bottles of sunscreen, the kids still ended up with sunburns. Me too. Boo! So several of us are spending quality time with our bottle of aloe vera gel.

Overall, such a happy trip! Traveling is a hassle. There’s no doubt about it. Packing up. Figuring out how to feed everybody. Navigating to a new place. Messed up sleep schedules. But  in my experience, it’s worth it every time.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!

P.S. — Have you ever had a run in with poison ivy or poison oak? I am highly allergic to both and have awful reactions. Apparently, I contacted some poison oak in our yard a few days before our trip, and all weekend my leg was an itchy, ugly mess. So gross! I’m guessing I have a few more days of this and then I should be on the mend. 

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Memorial Day has come and gone and that means it’s officially summer! Our family loves a good barbecue — Ben Blair makes the best burgers ever. But every so often it’s nice to switch things up a bit, so next up in the Slow Cooker Series is pulled pork sandwiches. You could use any kind of sauce you want, but for this one, we’ve used a homemade bbq sauce of sorts with two secret ingredients!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

Let’s talk about these secret ingredients. Have you ever had bourbon bbq sauce? It has a nice smoky, sweet flavor. And true, you could add bourbon to the sauce recipe if you wanted, but this one uses liquid smoke and vanilla extract. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like cupcakes or anything. It’s really good. (Trust me!)

Plus, you can’t have pulled pork sammies without a pile of coleslaw, right? I’ve got a good homemade recipe for that too, and it’s as easy as can be to put together. The coleslaw in the pictures is made with a new coleslaw mix from Trader Joe’s that has shredded kale and Brussels sprouts too. You can use any kind of slaw mix you can find or like best.

Ready to get cooking?

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

May 23, 2014

Blair-Swing-2-FrameB

Image (an animated gif) and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I noticed on my social media feeds yesterday that school ended for some people this week. You too? Our schools continue through the second week of June, so we still have 3 weeks to go. But, we do have a 4-day weekend! No school today and of course, no school on Monday for Memorial Day. So we thought an adventure was in order, and we’re headed to Sequoia National Park. Woohoo!

I’ve never been to Sequoia and I’m really looking forward to it — it’s the one with the tree you can drive through. : ) Have you ever been? We’d be delighted with any advice you want to give. We’re getting on the road first thing, but before we head out, here are a few things I wanted to share with you:

- The slickness of sexism — in response to the abrupt firing of the NYT Editor in Chief. This is a great short writeup, and in the writeup, the first 4 links she includes in the first line are all super smart as well. Thanks, Hannah.

- It’s not just snowflakes. No tears are alikeThanks, Sara.

- “How do I shake a hand that isn’t there?” Excellent videos from a British organization called Scope. Thanks, Amy.

- Getty images Lean In collection. What do you think? Accurate? Too clichéd?

- It’s the Nordstrom half yearly sale. I always go straight for the shoes. These sandals are so attractively simple — do you think they stay on?

- Best. Roommate. Ever. (Be aware: lots of cussing — but made me laugh!)

A family tries to make sense of what happened and what happened to them as the 9/11 Memorial Museum opens. How do we make sense of tragedy and tourist attraction? Thanks Elizabeth.

- Nightstand upcycled into a play kitchen.

- 10 years of ONE.

5 stylish storage ideas for a little kid room.

- The myth of the special needs super momThanks Vrylena.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll meet you back here next week. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The image at top is an animated gif I made of our swings. I can’t decide if I like or if it’s too jumpy. : ) But I sure love the swings!

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